Tenchu: Return from Darkness
What's a feudal Japanese Ninja to do? You're looking sharp, sound fantastic and have all of the right stealth skills to attract an army of the faithful ' but you're timing isn't exactly spot on. Tenchu: Return from Darkness doesn't reinvent itself, nor does it bring anything new to the stealth-action genre, but the biggest problem this mostly excellent game has is that it came out at the same time as that other ninja game.
For the most part Tenchu: Return from Darkness is a port of Playstation 2 game Wrath of Heaven which was released almost exactly a year earlier. The Xbox game offers up slightly better graphics, smoother sound and much improved multiplayer options ' but otherwise delivers the same experience to a different crowd.
Tenchu: Return from Darkness is an excellent stealth action game built around the model of feudal ninjas. In other words you can take people out in deadly and cinematically rendered single attacks if you surprise them or you can try to hold your own face-to-face, but it will be a lot harder for you to win. There are a ton of stealth weapons you can employee as the female and male ninjas Ayame and Rikimaru as they work there way through an admittedly light story line. Some of those tools include caltrops, throwing stars, a primitive grappling hook, swords and spears. The story lines for the two pretty much follows the ones offered up last year on the PS2, through there are a handful of new missions. You can also unlock a new character, a sort of acupuncturist from hell who can go through his own mission dislocating arms and killing with pressure points.
The biggest difference between this and the PS2 game are the multiplayer modes, unfortunately this is the most disappointing aspect of the game as well. The split screen modes are hampered by a bad split view and very small maps, while the Xbox Live version had trouble finding games and had some lag issues.
This latest Tenchu is worth the money, but probably won't hang around long in your collection after you beat it. The graphics and sound are slick and the fluid gameplay and intense kill scenes are very rewarding ' just don't expect a lot from multiplayer features.
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Return from Darkness' story mode features a surprisingly small list of Xbox-only enhancements, most of which serve to make the game easier. Players no longer lose 20 minutes of progress after an unfortunate turn of events, like, say, falling into a bottomless pit (the bane of all ninjas), so thats nice. Theres also a wealth of new items (the camouflage curtain makes stealth almost too easy), and the co-op missions on Xbox Live open the door for incredibly painful-looking two-way stealth kills. Still, the enhancements seem a bit paltry. Activision says the enemy A.i.s been reworked, but they still seem pretty stupid to me, with guards forgetting about your presence at the drop of a hat. The Live modes couldve been fleshed out more, too two players isnt nearly enough in the versus matches. Still, the Tenchu foundation is strong, and the new bits make Return from Darkness one of the most accessible stealth games out there."]
A bunch of little improvements Live multiplayer, new weapons adorn this port of PS2s Wrath of Heaven, but its basically the same game with the same flaws: dumb enemies, frustrating controls, and a recalcitrant camera. Performing devastating stealth kills is still thrilling, but getting spotted while you struggle with the camera is still lame. No worries just run for thirty paces in any direction, and the dude will forget you ever existed. (Classic ninja move.) If youre not a hardcore stealthnik with unflappable patience, sneak on by.
Stealthy action gets feudal on your ass with Activisions re-release of Tenchu on Xbox. Although the game lacks the Hollywood production values of the Splinter Cell series, Tenchu holds up well aesthetically, thanks to cool anime-inspired character designs and plenty of appealing idiosyncrasies. Hopping stealthily from rooftop to rooftop, then dropping in on an unsuspecting samurai for a brutal stealth kill is still a good time, but like its PS2 counterpart, controls in this game feel clunky. Add a few truly lackluster multiplayer modes on Xbox Live and you have a game that should, by all rights, be a budget release.